Rectify means to make right. As we look at the lineage of Jesus during this season of Readvent, the story of Tamar is a striking one. She ends up in the lineage of Jesus because she rectifies something. She makes it right.
Even if we think it was a long way around.
Most Christians think that Tamar’s story is unsavory and inappropriate. She fakes her identity and deceives her father-in-law and becomes his wife and gives him children.
In search of some insight, tonight I read on the Jewish Women’s Archive, in an article, titled Tamar: Midrash and Aggadah, that Tamar’s story is redemptive.
Tamar is Er’s wife. According to the article, Er fails Tamar by not having sex with her and not giving her children. So when he is struck dead, Tamar gets the opportunity to have Er’s children through his brother. Onan doesn’t want to have children that are Er’s children, he wants his own children. He, too, doesn’t have full intercourse with Tamar. Then he dies.
Tamar, still a virgin, is sent back home, supposedly to await the “coming of age” of Judah’s third son.
About a year later, Judah comes to her village to shear his sheep. Tamar dresses up like a harlot, entices Judah into her bed, after she obtains a pledge from Judah: His signet and cord and the staff he carries. She conceives.
Once rumors start flying that Tamar has gotten pregnant from being a harlot, Judah now has all the power, and he’s ready to wield it by sentencing Tamar to be burned at the stake.
But, Tamar plays her hand: I’m pregnant by the man who owns these things and reveals Judah’s ring, cord, and staff. Here’s where things get really iffy. Judah has all the power. As a man, in this time, he could have had Tamar’s life. She could have burned at the stake.
While everyone is holding their breath, expecting the worst to happen. A plot twist.
Judah declares: She is more right than I.
Wow! He didn’t blame her like Adam blamed Eve. He didn’t shame her like everyone shames Bethsheba for taking a bath. He said, she’s right and I’m wrong.
“The midrash says that by this act Judah publicly sanctified the Name of God,” said Tamar Kadari in her article on the Jewish Women’s Archive.
Tamar rectified the situation by creating a set of circumstances in which Judah does the right thing. And, she lands herself and the Tribe of Judah in the middle of the Christmas story. ❤